Black History Month Young Professional Spotlight

Meet Tyler Litt

Occupation: Senior Associate Partner

Organization: Newschools Venture Fund

Tell us a little about your Baton Rouge story. What brought you to, or kept you in, Baton Rouge?

I was born, and mostly raised, in Baton Rouge. I spent some elementary school years in Carson, California but have been in Baton Rouge through middle and high school. For undergrad, I attended Loyola University of New Orleans and lived in New Orleans before returning to Baton Rouge in 2014. Since then, I have been in education for several years (teaching 6th and 9th grade before leading student activities/admissions) before shifting into local education philanthropy.

At the beginning of the pandemic, I purchased my first home. I have really enjoyed making it my own; special shout out to Dean, Debbie, and Mrs. Donna who keep me on my toes and have really helped me learn homeownership on the curve. From secret supper clubs to infamous holiday gatherings, it’s been something that has kept me local.

In 2022, I joined a national education philanthropy team and now work fully remote with travel across the southern region, DC, and central region as well. To be honest, when I shifted to a fully remote position, I considered moving to San Rafael, CA where my mother lives (at least seasonally) or Peachtree City, GA where my father lives. In full transparency, my family (especially, my grandmother and godkids) have kept me in Baton Rouge. In addition, I am leading two young professional organizations (one statewide, one citywide) that will also keep me local until late 2024. Then who knows what’s next?

Tell us more about how you’re involved in Baton Rouge (job or organizations).

  • Nonprofit Board Leadership: President-Elect, Forum 225 (Presidential term kicks off April 1), President, Urban League of Louisiana Young Professionals- Volunteer Auxiliary of the Urban League of Louisiana
  • Board Service: BRAC, BRidge Agency, Corporate Internship Leadership Institute, Urban League of Louisiana
  • Committee + Council Service: BRAF’s Nonprofit Excellence Advisory Council, Mental Health Steering Committee, National Urban League Young Professionals Leadership, Training, & Development Committee, Public Affairs Research Council’s Emerging Leaders Council
  • Other Affiliations: ECHO Alliance

What is your favorite thing about Baton Rouge?

The people are the best asset that Baton Rouge has— this includes my family, friends, and the amazing young professionals I serve alongside. A close second and third would be the food and the potential that exists in the region.

What is your dream for Baton Rouge?

My dream for Baton Rouge is to cultivate better soil for those who have been planted here. This includes realizing its people and potential, while also addressing its challenges and pitfalls. I believe Baton Rouge should fall in love with itself. Take stock in who you are, what locally based assets you have, and be open to knowing itself deeply–the good, the bad, and the ugly. Only through reflection and collaboration can we create a community where all people want to stay, to learn, to grow, and to live.

What is your dream for Black young professionals in the community?

I’d be remiss if my dream for Black people wasn’t the same for black professionals. Although we aren’t monolithic—my hope for Black people is that they all have a community who honors their humanity, sees and cultivates their talent, and respects their value. That they’re afforded opportunities to grow and to make mistakes (personally and professionally) without those moments defining them. I’ve been fortunate to have folks look out for me my entire life—I could not remotely be where or who I am without those people or their grace. I wish that for all black people.

How are young Black professionals like yourself shaping Baton Rouge?

I’ve been afforded the opportunity to serve and visit many communities across the nation where Black people are leading the change they want to see in the community. My current passion is supporting Baton Rouge to better leverage local talent (and transplants who call BR home) as social entrepreneurs and consider us the next bench of innovators needed to address many of the gaps and challenges that have plagued our communities.

I think one of my superpowers is connection. That said, another contribution is building relationships and connecting dots with people, resources, and solutions. Every person I meet and every lesson I learn through those interactions, I bring back to those in my network. Dialogue is so powerful and the more we talk, the more we can progress as a community. I consider this knowledge open source–there are so many issues we face here that have been grappled with by other communities.

Millennials have a way of questioning everything that has not served us as we become the adults building families, starting businesses, and leading and living in Baton Rouge. It’s a nationwide phenomenon but I have seen more black young professionals no longer accepting the status quo and holding a mirror to our communities and to our colleagues. Those tough conversations are ones I am willing to have and best practices towards solutions are those that I will not and do not gatekeep.

What would you say to someone considering a move to Baton Rouge?

If you’re looking for a city to make a name for yourself, Baton Rouge is primed for that. Visit, spend time with locals, and do your research before making the commitment. It’s not New Orleans, but what it lacks in entertainment, it makes up for in opportunities to carve out a niche for yourself.

What is your Baton Rouge favorite?

  • Place to eat: Portabello’s (Bocage), Rocca Pizzeria (Happy Hour me!), Louisiana Cajun Seafood (Crawfish season staple)
  • Place to hang out: Home or wherever my godkids are
  • Place to capture the perfect Instagram pic: I am one of those millennials that feels more like an elder millennial…so I have no great answer for this.
  • Place to people watch: Everywhere, why limit yourself?
  • Place to network: Forum 225 or Urban League YP events; every place is an opportunity to connect. Don’t limit yourself.
  • Way to give back: Serve on a board, committee, volunteer with a local nonprofit; when you sow into your community, you truly see your life shift. You can hone professional and interpersonal skills or try out passion projects through service. I’ve experienced and have seen folks committee to serve and the benefits they’ve reaped during their terms from promotions to raises to public recognition for their contributions.
  • Event: Forum Fever and Urban League YP monthly meetings.
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